A letdown would have been understandable, but that’s just not how the 2022 Mets get down.
After clinching their playoff spot on Monday night and partaking in a “modest” champagne and beer soiree, the Mets came back strong to beat the Brewers 7-5 on Tuesday. The big players did big things, a great sign if the Mets are going to take the division, as Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor’s booming home runs provided all of the necessary offense.
Mets’ starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco only managed four innings, but Milwaukee tried and failed to successfully execute a bullpen game, watching this game and their plummeting playoff odds slip away after the fifth inning.
Thirteen total pitchers took the mound in this one, with the Brewers burning seven and the Mets using six. It looked like Milwaukee would coast to a win after they battered Carrasco for three runs in the second inning, but he rebounded nicely to shut down the next two before giving way to the bullpen. That bullpen, which on Tuesday sent Trevor Williams, Joely Rodriguez, Trevor May, Adam Ottavino and Edwin Diaz to the mound, pieced together the final five frames. Williams gave up an RBI single to Brewers second baseman Kolten Wong, putting the Brewers up 4-0, but simultaneously sparking the Mets’ signature scrappiness.
While this could be a potential, if unlikely playoff matchup — Milwaukee could still nab the six seed, setting up an NLDS with the Mets if they win the NL East and the Brewers pull an upset in the wild card round — this game showcased some glaring differences between the two sides.
Just as the Mets are getting all their players back, the Brewers have been decimated by pitching injuries recently, including one to Tuesday starter Aaron Ashby. The 24-year-old lefty was dealing with inflammation in his throwing shoulder that kept him out of the rotation since Aug. 19. With the Brewers needing every possible win to keep their postseason prayers alive, and time quickly running out, they elected not to send Ashby on a minor league assignment before coming back to the majors.
As such, he was essentially making a rehab start against one of the best baseball teams on the planet. It wasn’t a complete disaster, and even though Ashby needed 41 pitches to complete two innings, he danced around his two walks to keep the Mets from scoring. The vaunted duo of Peter Strzelecki and Hoby Milner took care of the next ten outs, and then the wheels came off Milwaukee’s bus. Pitching in his eleventh MLB season and 476th MLB game, Brad Boxberger looked more like an overmatched rookie.
Boxberger hit Mark Canha on his second pitch of the night, Lindor moved him up on a single, then it was time for Alonso to elevate and celebrate. He crushed a three-run homer to dead center field and 425 feet later, the Mets were right back in it. The supercharged home run also gave Alonso an RBI in eight straight games, a personal-best streak for him.
The grand attraction came one inning later, though. With another proven reliever on the mound — this time 2021 All-Star Taylor Rogers, who has twice saved 30 games in a season — the Brewers watched their lead disappear once and for all. Rogers somehow, someway walked each of his first three assignments. After finding the plate long enough to strike Canha out, Rogers found the wrong part of the plate with his next pitch. A letter-high sinker over the plate became Lindor’s 25th homer of the year and first grand slam.
When the organization dreamed of playing meaningful September baseball again, it probably looked a lot like this, with both Alonso and Lindor hitting the snot out of the ball to leave their opponent utterly deflated. Their own coalition of veteran relievers did what Milwaukee’s could not, ending with Edwin Diaz capping off a four-out save with a 102 mile per hour heater.
That was the story of how the Mets reached 95 wins, stayed one game ahead of Atlanta (who also won on Tuesday) and put on a clinic for playing through a mild hangover.
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